Atheists do not give themselves enough credit for achieving such a high level of certainty while announcing definitively that God does not exist. One can only assume that such a revelation could only be put forth if the entire universe had been painstakingly searched for the presence of a deity. That the vastness of time and space had been conquered. And knowledge of every dimension had been accrued and analyzed.
Of course, the atheist hasn’t really accomplished any of this. Nor has he considered the overwhelming amount of evidence provided by science, history, philosophy, and logic. Much of the time, they avoid accepting the burden of proof by claiming that they simply lack a belief in a God and positing that it’s the theist’s job to change their (the atheist’s) mind. Sadly, debating from a position of weakness.
But where does this certainty come from? Isn’t “God doesn’t exist” an incredibly bold claim, considering how easily the notion can be debunked? From his book, The Answer to the Atheist Handbook, Romanian minister Richard Wurmbrand, who was imprisoned for his Christian beliefs by communists in 1948, discusses the folly of such atheist assertions:
“Atheists assert that there is no God. How can they be sure? The book you are reading was conceived in prison. The guards regularly searched our cells for forbidden objects . . . They did not find them. We waited until they had left. Then we took them out of their hiding places. You search a cell for an object and you do not find it. But is it right to maintain that it is not there? Who has searched the infinite universe to ascertain that there is no God?”
But what if it could be true? What if an atheist could attain this kind of knowledge? Then we have a different problem. For argument’s sake, he has somehow traversed the far reaches of the universe, in search of a deity. Having achieved knowledge of all time and space. And searched every dimension, momentously finding it lacking a Good Good Father. Wouldn’t that person adorned with special attributes and abilities such as these, in fact, be God?
Clearly, a material being does not exist that could accomplish what atheists claim because they are not equipped for the job. This being would have to be eternal and all powerful so as not to be constrained by time and distance. He would need to be immaterial and limitless in order to constantly observe all of reality simultaneously in the event that, like Wurmbrand’s guards, the deity might reappear when the atheist left any particular corner of the universe.
So one needs the characteristics of God to know definitively that God does not exist. Who has the characteristics of God? Answer: only God. Crunch! The atheist’s premise is promptly crushed under it’s own weight.
No, the intellectually honest atheist cannot be an atheist at all. The best defense he can muster would be to claim that the evidence of God is unconvincing or the God’s existence is unknowable. Taking the person from atheism to agnosticism. The philosopher Alvin Plantinga refers to this when he said:
“. . . lack of evidence [for God], if indeed evidence is lacking, is no grounds for atheism. No one thinks there is good evidence for the proposition that there is an even number of stars; but also, no one thinks the right conclusion to draw is that there are an uneven number of stars. The right conclusion would instead be agnosticism. In the same way, the failure of theistic arguments, if they indeed fail, might conceivably be good grounds for agnosticism, but not for atheism. Atheism, like even-star-ism, would presumably be the sort of belief you can hold rationally only if you have strong arguments or evidence.”
The honest agnostic cannot confirm or, more importantly, deny the existence of a Good Good Father.